The Jaguars starting lineup on the defensive side of the ball consists of Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, Yannick Ngakoue, Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, Leon Jacobs, Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye, Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church. Eight of the 11 starters have made the Pro Bowl. Even with all that talent, the Jaguars need to find a way to get rookie third round pick Ronnie Harrison on the field.
Since the day he set foot in Jacksonville Ronnie Harrison has been making waves. From veteran players to the coaching staff, there has been nothing but praise for the young safety. Following his performance in week two of the preseason head coach Doug Marrone was obviously pleased with Harrison’s performance. At just 21 years old Harrison is ready to be an impact player on one of the best defenses in football. Throughout OTAs, Minicamp, and Training Camp Harrison has been a consistent playmaker. And through two preseason games he’s been an enforcer when on the field.
Harrison slid in the draft, for reasons I can’t understand, but the Jaguars were quick to pick the safety from Alabama with their third round selection. Now, they should be quick to get him on the field - even if they have to get creative in doing so. The Jaguars current starters at safety, Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church, both had solid seasons for the Jaguars in 2017 and shouldn't be in danger of losing their starting roles - at least for the time being - but Ronnie Harrison deserves to be on the field in 2018.
So, how can the Jaguars get their young playmaker on the field?
Play him at nickel. The Jaguars signed DJ Hayden this offseason to man their nickel spot, but he appears to be more of a stop gap than a long term fixture at the position. The Jaguars line up in a nickel defense anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the time. That means that the majority of the time the team has four down lineman, two linebackers, and five defensive backs on the field. The Jaguars should consider playing Harrison at the nickel or inside cornerback position. He’s perfect for the role. In Todd Wash’s defense the nickel is used to blitz and play in run support quite a bit. Harrison a stout tackler and has a nose for the football. He should be an excellent blitzer with his explosiveness and finishing ability. And he appears to be good enough in coverage to match up with most teams third receiving option.
The Jaguars coaching staff can also get creative with different looks that they haven’t used in seasons past. Harrison could play a similar role to that of Deone Buchanan with the Cardinals, lining up all over the field and wreaking havoc. I’m not suggesting the Jaguars completely change their defense to get Harrison on the field, but they could certainly find different ways to get him on the field at certain points throughout games.
Harrison will almost certainly be the primary backup at both safety positions - even though he was looked at as a box safety coming out of Alabama the Jaguars used him as their starter at free safety (filling in for Tashaun Gipson) against the Vikings in week two of the preseason - which would allow him to enter the game if either Church or Gipson need a breather or suffer an injury.
Make no mistake about it: The Jaguars should and most likely will find ways to get Harrison on the field as a rookie, which could make the Jaguars defensive backfield even more fierce in 2018 than it was in 2017 when the team had the second most interceptions in the NFL.
This site is not affiliated with nor endorsed by the NFL or the Jacksonville Jaguars."NFL" is a registered trademark of the National Football League. "Jacksonville Jaguars" are a registered trademark of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The information provided on this website is provided for information and entertainment purposes only. RSS Feed.